A superbly taken goal by Charlie Joy was enough to give Biggleswade United a hard-fought win over promotion hopefuls Cockfosters.
Clear chances were hard to come by at Second Meadow, but the forward’s first-half strike ensured the Reds extended their unbeaten run to seven matches, ending the visitors’ own undefeated league streak at 14.
Though fighting between United’s Martin Russell and ‘Fosters’ Jason Beck in the dying moments meant both teams finished with 10 men, it was a significant victory for manager Cristian Colas and his players.
The 1-0 triumph means Biggleswade have kept five consecutive clean sheets, with recent improvement now reflected by a place in the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division’s top six.
In front of a larger than average crowd, it was the North London outfit who began on the front foot, pinning United back in their own half. However, despite their early territorial domination they failed to fashion a clear cut opportunity.
Though the hosts lost Jordan Wright to injury after just 13 minutes, they eventually began to grow into the contest. Matt Cooper blazed over the bar from distance following some neat interplay, before what turned out to be the winner arrived with just under a quarter of the match gone.
Cooper’s well-weighted through ball caught out the Cockfosters defence, who were attempting to play Joy offside. There was still a lot of work for the United number 10 to do, but he showed excellent composure to evade a challenge, cut inside onto his weaker right foot and finish confidently past visiting goalkeeper Austin Byfield.
The response from the away side was swift and they had three presentable chances to level things up. Forward Ioannis Varouxakis poked over following a free kick, before embarking on a mazy run that looked like it would end with an equaliser. However, left-back Kane Farrell was on hand to make a superb last ditch challenge to deny the Greek just before he could pull the trigger.
The Reds defence then left ‘Fosters defender Beck completely unmarked at a corner, but the centre-back could only direct a free header over the bar as Dean Barker’s team finished the half strongly.
United had to dig in once more in the second period, with Cockfosters again enjoying the better of the possession but lacking in penetration.
Beck again headed over from a corner when he could have done better, but other than from set plays the league’s third-placed team did not look particularly dangerous as they fought to preserve their long unbeaten run.
At the other end, Kevin Owusu poked harmlessly at Byfield when well-placed, before more brilliant work by Joy on the left saw him cross for James Cooper, who flicked just wide.
Reds forward Dave Iwediuno made his comeback from injury, replacing Jayden Irish, as Cockfosters threw increasing numbers forward and Biggleswade began to look threatening on the break.
It was in the final moments, however, that the most memorable moment of the second half occured. With United on the counter-attack in search of a second goal, fighting broke out at the other end of the field between Beck and home substitute Russell.
Play was halted as members of both teams got involved, with the home bench also intervening in an attempt to restore order. Eventually, having taken time to consult with his linesmen, the referee sent both Beck and Russell for an early bath.
The final whistle finally sounded following a lengthy spell of stoppage time, giving Colas and his players another significant scalp to add to their away victory over high-flying Hertford Town last week.
Having risen to sixth and with two further home matches to come over the next week, United can be confident that their season’s upward trajectory will not end here.
Biggleswade United: Wyant, Grinham, Wright, Farrell, Bilcock, Irish, Hunt, M. Cooper, J. Cooper, Joy, Owusu
Subs: Ponting, Mitri, Iwediuno, Russell, Gardener
Cockfosters: Byfield, Massey, Sexton, Ferguson, Resch, Beck, Hart, Rolfe, I. Varouxakis, Sears, Melford-Rowe
Subs: Spaul, Heald, Murad, N. Varouxakis, Alfano